Six Americans working for publicly funded U.S. organizations promoting democracy in Egypt have been barred from leaving the country, provoking angry demands in Washington that Cairo’s new military rulers stop “endangering American lives.”
Among those hit by travel bans – one of those targeted called it “de facto detention” – is a son of U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, as well as other foreign staffers of the International Republican Institute and National Democratic Institute, officials at the two organizations said.
The United States said Egypt should reverse them: “We are urging the government of Egypt to lift these restrictions immediately and allow these folks to come home as soon as possible,” State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said.
A month after police raided the Cairo offices of the IRI, NDI and eight other non-governmental organizations, it raises the stakes for Washington, which had already indicated it may review the $1.3 billion it gives the Egyptian military each year if the probe into alleged breaches of local regulations went on.
Sam LaHood told Reuters that a judge had accused him and three other IRI employees with managing an unregistered NGO and being paid employees of an unregistered organization, infractions that carry a penalty of up to five years in jail. Egyptian officials have made no comment on the bans.
Image: Mideast Mag